Archive for February, 2022

Glass whale oil lamp with carved wood base, c.1840

Sunday, February 20th, 2022

This colorless free-form conical glass whale oil lamp was made in North America, circa 1840, and stands nearly 5.5 inches high. Oil from the sperm whale was a popular lighting fuel source in the 1700s to early 1800s but by the mid-1800s, it become expensive and scarce. Lard oil, a cheaper and more readily available option, was used as a replacement but gave off a lower source of light and emitted a bad odor. By the 1860s, kerosene was found to be the most popular and practical oil of choice and lamps were redesigned to accommodate the new lamp fuel.

Over 150 years ago, the original base broke off this fragile glass lamp and a 3 inch square wood replacement was added. Repairs such as this were most likely done at home, using found objects at hand. Wear from holding the lamp at the base indicates that it was used for many years after it was repaired.

This intact lamp suggests what the original base on my lamp might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Invaluable

James Giles decorated teapot, c.1760

Sunday, February 13th, 2022

This small white porcelain teapot has traveled the world since it was first produced in China in the mid-1700s. Soon after it was made, it travelled by cargo ship to London where it was decorated with flowers in polychrome enamels at the James Giles Workshop, circa 1755-1765. I purchased the teapot a few years ago from an antiques dealer in Virginia and now it resides in New York. It measures nearly 5.5 inches high, 7.5 inches from handle to spout.

You all must know by now that the reason I purchased this lovely teapot is because of the make-do repair. After the original spout broke off, over 200 years ago, a jeweler attached an elegant silver replacement. Repairs such as this are not uncommon, and I image jewelers kept a stock of silver spouts ready for action for when the inevitable happened.

This teapot with similar form and decoration by James Giles suggests what the original spout on my teapot would have looked like.

Photo courtesy of eBay

Bangkokian Museum, Bangkok

Sunday, February 6th, 2022

In December 2018, Mark and I took a trip to Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. In addition to taking in the lush landscapes with breathtaking views, I spied many an inventive repair at local museums and historical sites within in the cities. The small and charming Bangkokian Museum in Bangkok boasted a few make-do’s hidden in plain view. In addition to spotting the more familiar staple/rivet repairs on ceramics, I was surprised to find an unusual repair on the glass display cabinet, effectively and efficiently using wire and metal coins to stabilize cracks in the glass. Definitely a first for me!

© Kevin Miller / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo courtesy of Bangkok Info Guide